It has been no secret that the Kansas Department of Transportation has taken the brunt of state budget woes over the last six years. To the tune of $2.7 billion, money has been swept from KDOT into the general fund to cover other deficits and government expenditures. Roads and bridges have suffered from the exodus of funds available for projects that are desperately needed across Kansas.

Roads and bridges are the single most used function of government. This begs the question – what is going on in the back rooms of Topeka? The deals that have been made have put our safety and our economy at risk. Kansans travel on roads and bridges every day, and every day our roads and bridges receive a little more wear and tear. The same roads and bridges that are traveled by school buses are also traveled by semis, the kinds that are hauling Kansas’ agriculture products to markets across the world. The longer we continue down this path we are on, the worse off our roads and bridges will be.

Solving this problem is about finding a way to move forward and ensure that we don’t go down this road again. Roads and bridges are significant economic contributors. For every dollar invested in roads and bridges, $5.20 is returned in economic benefit. Roads and bridges provide a real return on investment, the kind that hard working Kansans deserve.

Sitting idly by while billions have been swept from roads and bridges has left our state at an impasse. Road projects have been canceled by the dozens across our state and road workers are headed across our borders to find the next job.

The time of transportation funding being swept into the general fund is over – there isn’t any money left to be swept. While the actions of some of our state leaders have angered me in the past, litigating past sessions is not how we will solve this problem.

We will only overcome this challenge if we band together and do what is right for the safety and economic well-being of our citizens. The legislature must act to protect funding for our roads and bridges.

Our state constitution says that revenue from the motor vehicle fuel tax can only be used to fund transportation projects. An increase of the gas tax this session will ensure the long-term health of our roads and bridges. 

— Stan Scudder, Newton